November 6, 2019

Raising awareness on diabetes: Resources available all year long

National Diabetes Awareness Month is observed each November to raise awareness and bring attention to diabetes and the effects it has on the millions of people living with the disease.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports:

  • More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, and one in four don’t know they have it.
  • More than 84 million US adults -- over a third -- have prediabetes, and 90 percent of them don’t know they have it.
  • Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S. (and may be underreported).
  • Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes; Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5 percent.
  • In the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled as the American population has aged and become more overweight or obese.

The prevalence of the disease creates a need for ongoing education and support (not only during the month of November) for those who have been diagnosed, as well as their caregivers. The Center for Healthy Living  (CHL) on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus conveniently provides it. Team members have knowledge and skills to help those with diabetes better understand the disease and live a healthier life. For information on the types of diabetes, visit the center’s Diabetes webpage.


According to Cheryl Laszynksi, registered nurse health coach at CHL, part of the reason raising awareness is so important is the fact there are two main types of diabetes. Although both are related to the pancreas and insulin, not everyone realizes they are vastly different diseases.

“Type 1 diabetes is a chronic, autoimmune disease -- where the body attacks itself by mistake -- and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the body,” Laszynski says. “Those living with Type 1 diabetes must get their insulin from daily injections or an insulin pump. Without insulin, his or her body would not be able to properly utilize energy from food, and blood glucose would rise to dangerous levels.

"With Type 2 diabetes, the body is usually still producing insulin, but that insulin may not be working as effectively as it should to keep blood sugar levels within normal range. This is sometimes referred to as insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form and is managed mostly with lifestyle changes and exercise, but oral medications and insulin can be part of the treatment. Another diabetes term you might be familiar with is ‘prediabetes.’ Prediabetes indicates that your blood sugar is running a little higher than the normal range, but not high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes.”

According to the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF), over 50 percent of Type 2 diabetes is preventable, and the first step in prevention is risk knowledge. IDF has an interactive tool to help individuals assess their risk. This is an important step. The CDC estimates that more than one in every three adults in the U.S. -- or 84 million Americans -- has prediabetes, and more than 90 percent of these people don’t know that they do. Though prediabetes doesn’t always lead to a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis, it does happen.

“Awareness is also important because the disease can be extremely costly and can be debilitating,” Laszynski says. “Diabetes can lead to complications in the skin, eyes (retinopathy) and feet or hands (neuropathy or nerve damage), DKA (ketoacidosis), high blood pressure, depression, digestive issues and more.”

Complications of diabetes shared by the CDC include:

  • People with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke as people without diabetes -- and at an earlier age.
  • Diabetes is a leading cause of chronic kidney disease, lower-limb amputations and adult-onset blindness.
  • People with diabetes who smoke are more likely to develop serious related health problems, including heart and kidney disease.

In regard to cost, the CDC reports that medical costs and lost work and wages for those with diagnosed diabetes total $327 billion yearly, and medical costs for individuals living with diabetes are twice as high as those who don’t have diabetes.

Having the right resources and support are vital in managing the disease.



CHL offers a variety of programs, including those with a diabetes-related focus.

* Lunch and Learn Sessions -- On Tuesday (Nov. 12), the CHL will offer a Type 2 diabetes overview lunch and learn session from 12:10 to 12:50 p.m. in Stewart Center, Room 313. Led by Laszynski, the session will cover the basics of Type 2 diabetes and the role nutrition, exercise and prescriptions play in managing the disease. Additionally, the eight-week Type 2 diabetes course “Taking Control of my Diabetes” will be discussed. Interested individuals should register by Monday (Nov. 11) via the Healthy Boiler portal. Registration link can be found under the “Engage” tab, “Wellness Events” on the portal’s homepage.  

* “Taking Control of My Diabetes” -- An eight-week diabetes program tailored to those living with Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. The eight-week program will cover 16 sessions on a variety of topics related to Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes to help participants better manage their condition and live healthier lives.

Free True Metrix blood glucose meters and test strips will be available for those who participate in the entire program and maintain monthly coaching sessions with a CHL health coach after the program ends.

To sign up for the group class, check out the listing on the Healthy Boiler portal. Those who sign up for the “Taking Control of My Diabetes” class series will be added to a wait list and will be the first to know about upcoming sessions in 2020.

Individuals living with Type 1 diabetes are able to meet monthly with a CHL health coach but are not required to participate in the eight-week “Taking Control of My Diabetes” program to take advantage of the test strips and blood glucose meter opportunity. To get started, schedule an initial appointment with Laszynski or Megan Shidler, registered dietitian, by calling CHL at 765-494-0111.   

Access to specialized health care professionals

The Center for Healthy Living provides access to not only medical doctors and nurse practitioners, but also two health coaches, a dietitian and two pharmacists who all can help those living with diabetes in special ways, including provider referrals to endocrinologists when needed.

* Health coaches -- Laszynski and Whitney Soto, registered nurse health coaches at CHL, are able to help individuals manage chronic conditions -- such as diabetes -- and help with other things such as goal setting, stress management, weight management and more that can directly affect the health of those with diabetes.

* Registered dietitian -- Shidler, registered dietitian at CHL, is available to assist patients looking for in-depth assistance with all things food and nutrition. By choosing the right foods, not only can those with diabetes help control blood sugars but also can protect their heart and maintain a healthy weight. With so many food choices and recommendations, it can be challenging to decide which foods to eat.

* Pharmacists: Chelsea Baker and Jamie Woodyard, pharmacists at CHL, are on site to provide medication therapy management and assist patients with all of their medication needs. Both Baker and Woodyard are available to answer any questions someone might have in regard to their diabetes medications. The pharmacists also work with patients’ primary care physicians and/or endocrinologists to ensure that each patient’s medication list is appropriate and the most cost-effective for him or her. 

The center is open for medical appointments 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. Lab hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Employees at the regional campuses can access these resources via the center’s telephonic wellness programs.

To schedule an appointment, call 765-494-0111 or use the patient portal.


Purdue also offers other resources to benefits-eligible employees who have been diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes as well as those with prediabetes.

* Vision Service Plan (VSP) exclusive member benefits include “diabetes care special offers.” VSP not only provides Purdue’s vision coverage but also offers savings and resources for diabetes-related services:

  • Save on eye exams.
  • Save on diabetes testing supplies, prescriptions and more.
  • Discounts on hearing aids and batteries via TruHearing.
  • Access Diabetes Educational Materials.

Visit VSP’s Diabetes Resources webpage to learn more about the diabetes-related options available via VSP.  

* Anthem Dental allows all individuals with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes an extra dental cleaning per year. Individuals with diabetes have an increased risk of developing gingivitis and gum disease. As an added preventive, Anthem allows for the additional cleaning. For more information, call dental member services at 1-877-604-2142.

* CVS Caremark offers cost savings to plan members via their “Diabetic Meter Program.” The Diabetic Meter Program is a value-added program offered by prescription benefit plans that provides eligible members with a no-cost blood glucose meter to help monitor blood sugars. For more information, visit or call the CVS Caremark Member Services Diabetic Meter Team at 877-418-4746. 

* Virta Health is a benefit for benefits-eligible Purdue employees and spouses covered on a Purdue medical plan ages 18 to 69 with Type 2 diabetes as well as patients with prediabetes with a BMI ≥ 35. Virta Health provides a customized care plan for each person. The program is designed to quickly, safely and sustainably lower A1c, help individuals lose weight -- while helping to eliminate diabetes medications. Visit to learn more. Any questions about Virta Health can be directed to


Questions about any of the diabetes-related resources listed above can be directed to Human Resources at 765-494-2222, toll-free at 877-725-0222 or via email at

Faculty-Staff News

More News

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2015-20 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Office of Strategic Communications

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact News Service at